Probably one of my favorite things is hearing the “humble beginnings” stories from other small businesses. If you’re a small business owner that looks up to the achievements of other more accomplished companies, it’s always great to be reminded that, they too, had to start somewhere. Muffinhead is a young company, having only been in business for 2 years. We started with a chunk of my own savings, and the generous donations of a few friends and family members that were kind enough to “invest” in my dream. Muffinhead’s first workshop was essentially the living room of my very small Portland apartment. It has since graduated to a dedicated workshop, but it’s still not a warehouse space and I still don’t have a big fancy corner office in a high-rise (not that I see Muffinhead heading in that particular direction, but you get the idea). I would come home from my day job after an 8-10 hour workday, and cut dog jackets into the wee hours of the morning, before going to bed and waking up the next day to start the process all over again. This, of course, was before I had a business partner or helpers. I did it all, and it was exhausting and exciting. Everyone I worked with got to go home at night and kick their feet up and watch TV, and I got to go home and see my dreams materialize in my teeny apartment. I barely told people in the office that I had a dog jacket company. I remember how amazing I felt when, one day I brought a few jackets into the office and my coworkers went nuts (in a good way) when they saw them. I don’t know what they had pictured, but the jackets that we make certainly exceeded their expectations.
So, yes, I love heart-warming stories of “the little companies who could.” It makes one think of all of the possibilities their own company has for greatness. It’s inspiring! In a lot of ways, I think that most small businesses have their own “underdog” stories to tell- -and who doesn’t love an underdog!?
As it’s now the end of September, we’re at the very beginning of “Dog Jacket Season.” Some people are buying school clothes for their kids, and some people are buying dog jackets for their pups. To each their own, but either way, I know what this time of year means for me. Dog jacket season typically looks like this for Amy and I: 2-4 days a week, depending on need, Amy and I congregate at the Muffinhead workshop and start buzzing through the Muffinhead Fabric closet to make thoughtful pairings for the optimum warm, water-resistant, cool-looking jacket. Usually we drink a bit of red wine and listen to music (or watch old movies), and our mostly-quiet focus is only sporadically broken when one exclaims to the other, “Oh my GOD, look how cute this jacket is!!!!” Then we both gush and get excited and continue on as we were before. Once we have a full order, we drop it off to the manufacturer and we’ve established a pact of sorts that neither of us is allowed to look at the completed jackets until we can do it together….essentially it’s Christmas morning, and we really look forward to it.
When I look at a Muffinhead dog jacket, this is part of what I see and it makes me really happy. My hope is that regardless of how Muffinhead grows and evolves, that this is always true- -but I really can’t imagine it any other way.
If you need Amy and I from now through March, here’s where we’ll be: